Her Name Was Madi
Author's note: I always loved the 1950's. Grease, Cry-Baby, so many things made me want to write something for... Show full author's note »
Chapter Four"So, let me get this straight. You have no home, no job, no family, no records, even, and you want to enroll in our school district."
Madi smiled and nodded, realizing just how insane she sounded. Trying to help her situation, she replied, "But it's not that I don't have a home, it's that I'm sort of between homes right now." She hesitated a moment to gather her thoughts and launched into her "thoroughly rehearsed" background story.
"You see, I'm an Irish immigrant. I know I don't have an accent, but that's because my parents were from America. Before the war got too out of hand, they sent me, along with loads of other European children, to America, even though I was only two and a half. The other kids were very kind to me and took care of me until we were separated. When I got here, I ended up staying with a family of six children that, for some strange reason, wanted to take care of another child. By the time I was fifteen, I had become restless and decided to go find a place for myself, but when I asked for my records, Bertha-that was my foster mother's name- told me they'd been lost in the war. I left nonetheless, and here I am, wishing to finish my education while I can."
The look on the principal's face said enough. She knew Madi was full of it-the smile said it all. Madi was disappointed that she hadn't fallen for it; she believed it to be a good cover up...sort of. She prepared to escort herself out of the office until, for some reason, the principal nodded and gave Madi a few forms to fill out.
"Alright, here's the deal. No offense, but your story is the worst I've heard in a long time. However, it's refreshing to see a teenager that's actually willing to learn, so I'll let you use my address and no one has to know," the principal told her with a friendly demeanor.
"Thank you so mu-" A wave of the woman's hand cut Madi's gratitude short.
"There's just one problem. We have less than a month of school left, and you have no grades whatsoever. I'm sorry to say that I cannot fake them for you. Somehow, you must earn those grades."
"Mrs. Toomey? Mrs. Toomey, I'm sorry to bother you, but Jordan Rudemaker's parents want to know what percentage of her grade she's missing." a voice, probably that of a secretary, said through the door. Mrs. Toomey grumbled and got out a sheet of scratch paper. Not meaning to look at the grades, Madi saw them and figured the percentage quickly in her head.
"Thirty-eight point nine percent," she told Mrs. Toomey with an innocent smile on her face. The principal glanced at her before returning to her equation, and with a shocked expression, realized that Madi was right.
"How'd you do that?" she asked in disbelief. Madi shrugged sheepishly.
"Are you that good in all your subjects?" she ventured, an idea slowly forming in her mind. Madi blushed a bit and gave a small "I guess so," in reply.
"And how's your tolerance level?" she continued casually. Madi looked at the ceiling thoughtfully for a moment.
"Well, I lived with six other kids and I didn't kill any of them. That should say something," she replied jokingly, instantly regretting it as a sly, yet still mature, smile crept across the principal's face.
"Well, you're in luck, Madi. It just so happens that I have a class of freshman that is simply..." widening her eyes a bit, she finished quietly, "you know. They're very wild and Ms. Webster can hardly control them, let alone teach them. Perhaps you can help her." Madi looked at her, completely bewildered. Sighing, Mrs. Toomey explained.
"I propose that for one period a day, you teach her class. It can be the class of your choice, as long as you know what you're talking about, of course. That way, you can earn your grades, and those kids might actually learn something! What do you think?" Well, that wasn't exactly what Madi was thinking of, but it was the only choice she had.
"Alright, I'll do it!" she told Mrs. Toomey, her voice full of hollow enthusiasm. The principal didn't seem to notice.
"Great! Which subject would you like?"
"Well, I've always been partial to History, so..."
"History it is then! You start tomorrow!" Mrs. Toomey said excitedly. Apparently, getting another teacher for the freshman was a big deal for her. That was probably not a good sign, but Madi felt as though she could do it, so she shrugged it off and left Mrs. Toomey's office with a polite "Thank you."
The minute she closed the door, she could hear the principal cheering her head off inside. Yet another bad sign.
After returning to the forest to retrieve the clothes she'd stolen, Madi familiarized herself with the town, checking out local shops and leafing through magazines and newspapers so as to get an idea of what was going on in the world. She then spent an hour or two in a park she had walked past when "liberating" the bag of clothes earlier, lounging on a swing lost in thought. Children went up to her now and again, smiling sweetly or striking up simple conversation, which, although it struck her as a bit strange, made her day at the same time. However, after receiving many disapproving looks from the children's parents and hearing snippets of side conversations that she assumed were probably about her, Madi eventually tired of it all and went on her way.
As much as Madi wished otherwise, night eventually fell, and she was utterly without a place to stay. She considered sleeping on a park bench, but the thought of hobos bothering her throughout the night was just too much. Mulling a few ideas over in her mind, she strolled to nowhere in particular, and before she knew it, she found herself returning to the school. By the time she saw the plain building loom up in front of her, nearly unnerving in the dark, she was discouraged, hungry, and ready to give up. For now, it felt as if the only thing close to a home she had was the school, and for the time being, even it was off limits to her.
Just as she was beginning to set off in the opposite direction, a little old man opened the front door to the school and began heaving cleaning supplies out of it. Madi instantly dove into the bushes so as not to be seen. The man was whistling some sort of jazz tune and a grin crossed Madi's face. Of course! The janitor! she thought excitedly. Maybe if I can sneak in before the door closes...
Alas, there was no such luck. After dragging all of the equipment out of the doors-Madi wanted desperately to help, but didn't want to be seen out after dark for fear of questioning- he had shut and locked the door behind him. Then, after loading the equipment into his truck, he drove away. A sigh of defeat escaped her mouth as she wondered where to go from there.
In truth, there was nowhere she could stay in this town. She had no money, and therefore could not afford a hotel or inn. She knew no one in the area, and therefore could not ask to use a spare room or something of the sort. Since outdoors were off limits, this was her only choice. Watching the janitor drive away, she straightened her skirt and circled to the back of the school.
Okay, there's got to be an unlocked door or an open window or something, she thought, pulling on each of the back doors in turn. When she reached a corner of the school, she found a small window just inches above the grass. She was totally exhausted, and decided if this one wasn't unlocked, she would call it a day and just collapse on the spot. She then squeezed her eyes shut and, crossing her fingers, gave the window a small push. Amazingly, it opened with a slight squeak.
"Hallelujah!" she wheezed, sliding through the small space as quickly as she could and landing in a basement. Although, the place gave her the creeps, so, with a quick look around, she left the basement and headed for the library. Just a step out of the basement she stopped, thinking of her stomach first instead.
Ducking under the cafeteria windows, Madi tiptoed-although she had no idea why-to the kitchen in the back of the room and flicked a light switch. Fryers, ovens, and sinks stretched out around her, but she saw no food. Frowning, she explored further into the area, and she found herself standing in front of a large metal door.
"Bingo!" she muttered excitedly, pulling the door open. Tons of frozen food lined the numerous shelves. Everything she could ever picture being served in a cafeteria was present-burgers, steak, chicken, fries; just about anything and everything she loved. Not to mention, the food was all real. 100% real. Unlike the synthetic menus back at her school. Thankfully, she'd always had a knack for cooking, so keeping herself fed would be a breeze. Pulling some food off of the shelves, she figured that if she was the only one stealing food, then it would go completely unnoticed.
As it began to get late, she retired to the library, picking a spot in the very back to read in just in case she fell asleep, so as not to be noticed. She browsed the shelves, looking for any interesting titles, and finally settled on "The Great Gatsby". She'd always had a softness for love stories, and it just so happened that this was one of her favorites. As short as the book was, it was a bit of a slow read for her, and she ended up reading late into the night. Around midnight or so, exhaustion overtook her, and she fell asleep with her nose in a book.
At the same time that Madi was settling in her temporary home, Tony Bourdain and his friends, Ralph and Mark, were pacing the streets for the sole purpose of disobeying the curfew of nine o' clock. Tony didn't want to go home, anyway. It was a weeknight, and that meant that his dad had probably come home from work angry at the world. It also meant that if he was angry at the world, he would take it out on Tony and his mother. After the day he'd had, he just wasn't in the mood. First, he'd gotten a bunch of crap from his teachers, all who couldn't stand the sight of him. Like he cared, anyway. Then, there was that girl, Madi. She'd not only argued with him and yelled at him, but she'd also rejected him. The very notion of rejection was foreign to him.
"Guys, why the hell are we walking past the school?" he asked grumpily, noticing the building on his right. His friends looked back at him and shrugged, going back to talking about whatever they'd been talking about. A dim light coming through one of the library's windows stopped him a few feet behind Ralph and Mark. Stepping closer to the school, he peered through the window, looking at the clock on the wall. It was nearly midnight, and someone was in the library. Upon lowering his gaze, he found none other than Madi, sitting with her back against the wall with a single bright lamp illuminating the book she was reading.
"Tony, you comin'?" Ralph asked him, jarring his concentration. He directed his gaze at his friend and answered, "Naw, you guys go on without me." The pair shrugged as if to say suit yourself and left him there.
Tony stood at the window till half past midnight, simply watching Madi. She would read a few pages, smile here and there, and sometimes look up at the ceiling like she was thinking about something else while she read. And so the cycle went for about half an hour, when, after her head drooped dangerously a few times, she leaned until she fell on her side. With her book still in her hands, she slept.
Taking one last, long glance, Tony stuffed his hands into his pockets and strolled off into the night.